Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Both on Board

A reader I'll call "Sarah" sent an email posing a question which I thought deserved its own blog post. Sarah kindly gave permission to post her email as follows:

I have been a reader for awhile, but have stayed in the shadows. I admire you, and always look forward to reading what you wrote through the week. I wanted to mention an idea to you, and I will be quick because I know how incredibly busy you are.

I am remarried. I was married to my first husband for 17 years, and together we learned so much about prepping. I enjoyed every minute of it. Sadly, we took different paths, and he no longer preps for anything! I mean anything! I remarried my highschool sweetheart after 20 years apart. He is employed by the state, and loves it. Me? eeek! He doesn't prep, thinks I am silly, but it doesn't bother me in the slightest.

I had to leave the old house in the country, my ex and his wife reside there, with ALL my prepping. I now live in a small city, and have encouraged my husband to consider country life. He said "Okay, next spring." So I will be back in my element.

My idea for your blog is....Do you think you can write a series of stories relating to people who have a spouse who doesn't prep...has faith in the government? I would really like to read what other people deal with in this situation. Look for a little encouragement. I am sure my husband will appreciate all the prepping I do, and what I do know, when the time comes. Thank you so much for your blog, I truly enjoy every bit of it...even the ridiculous comments by people!

Sarah's email caught my attention for two reasons. One, I think her situation is shared by a great many other people. And two, I had posted this very question some time ago on my blog, seeking reader input. (I can't seem to locate the link to that post, but will include it if I find it.) Of the replies and suggestions I received from readers, I coalesced everything into the following, which is now an excerpt from my manuscript on preparedness.

(Incidentally, I saw this very topic addressed on SurvivalBlog earlier this year, and saved the link.)

One of the most frequent laments I hear is when a family is getting prepared but their friends and extended family won’t heed the call. The refusal to prepare can range from true ignorance (“Economy? What’s wrong with the economy? Everything’s fine!”) to deliberate denial and ridicule (“Hey, I like your tinfoil hat!”).

And of course it all concludes with the ultimate contingency plan: “Well if times get tough, I’ll just move in with you.”

But a tragic variation on this theme is when one spouse wants to be prepared, and the other does not. It’s one thing to face the ridicule or hostility of friends or extended relatives. It’s a whole different ballgame if that ridicule or hostility is coming from your spouse, the person you took vows with. What then?

I had such a difficult time coming up with possible solutions to this issue that I posed the question on my blog; namely how does one convince one’s spouse about the benefits of preparedness? Needless to say there was no clear-cut “Here’s the answer!” solution, but following are some ideas that might influence a reluctant spouse to embrace a more prepared lifestyle.

• Security. Emphasize the benefits of the physical security that comes with being prepared. Women often have an instinctive need for security, whether it means food in the pantry or a healthy savings account. Most men are hard-wired to want to protect their family. Both these instincts are correct; and both can be seen from a preparedness angle.

• Play on strengths. If the unconvinced spouse has an existing “prepper” interest that can be useful in a preparedness lifestyle, encourage it. Perhaps the unbelieving spouse loves firearms, or gardening, or the thought of rural life, or canning, or sewing, or mechanics, some other aspect which can be played up.

• Learn the objections. Why isn’t the other spouse interested? Is it because they don’t believe something could ever happen to them? Is it because it’s too much work? Is it because they’re afraid of the unknown, such as moving to the country? If the other person’s concerns are verbalized and respectfully addressed, he or she may start to come around.

• Don’t nag or push. I know we all want to be prepared NOW, but if your spouse isn’t on board, then nagging or pushing will only make them resist and pull back. Gentle persuasion is more powerful and effective in the long run than banging someone upside the head.

• Don't be secretive. While I would never suggest you keep secrets from your spouse, nothing prevents you from quietly preparing as best you can alone. Shrug and say it’s your little idiosyncrasy to buy extra food and stash it in buckets in the basement. Begin to accumulate a reference library and various non-electric options. Don’t make a big deal out of it, but don’t be secretive either.

• Let experience be the teacher. If a short-term emergency (such as a power outage) should happen, gently point out either (a) you can weather the emergency quite easily because of your preparations, or (b) wouldn’t it have been nice if you’d had preparations in place to handle the emergency? Nothing teaches like experience, and that experience in handling a short-term emergency can be either good or bad.

• Play on the love. I don’t like marital manipulation, i.e. “If you loved me, you’d do xyz.” However, you might gently point out that putting aside some supplies would make you a very happy spouse, and happy spouses do nice things to each other (in bed, in the kitchen, whatever). In other words, make it worth their while.

• Make it fun. Nothing says preparedness must be grim! Instead, find all the fun stuff you can do together – go target shooting, go camping, go to antique stores or farm sales, do some workouts with each and get into shape… find the “togetherness” aspect and enjoy yourselves!

• Compromise. Maybe you can’t convince your spouse to move to a rural farm, but perhaps he or she might be interested in a little piece of property on the edge of town where you can get chickens and grow a garden. And while the saying goes, “A good compromises pleases nobody,” keep in mind that you must be respectful of your spouse’s viewpoints and opinions… even if you feel differently.

• Emphasize frugality. Perhaps your spouse is concerned about the costs of prepping. If money is tight, emphasize how much you’ll save by cooking from scratch and buying in bulk. It’s a start!

• Try a vacation. If you can afford it, consider buying a rural bugout and using it as a vacation property. Again, treat it as a fun “together” thing.

• Keep some literature handy. Perhaps your spouse might end up picking up a book or two (either fiction or nonfiction) on preparedness and come away convinced. Dinner-time discussions about domestic and international financial woes can work their way into the other person’s mind and begin to change their views.

• Educate yourself. Even if you can’t purchase all the food and supplies you’d like, nothing keeps you from educating yourself about various matters that interest you. You could teach yourself food preservation, firearm safety, sewing, welding, cooking from scratch, and other useful skills.

• What’s more important? If your spouse remains downright hostile to the idea of prepping, in the end you may have to make a decision. Which is more important: your spouse, or preparedness? If it comes down to brass tacks, pick your spouse. You took vows with this person. You stood before God and promised eternal devotion. You had children with him or her. It’s not fair for you to change direction mid-stream and demand your spouse comply with your vision of preparedness at the expense of marital unity. It is far more essential to keep the family intact than it is to drive someone away in order to prepare for something which may or may not happen. In other words, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.


  1. So "Sarah" divorces her first husband who quit prepping and married her second husband who is not interested in prepping at all. Makes a lot of sense.

    Maybe an article on how to choose a "till death do us part" lifetime spouse would be better . . .

  2. Patrice, I don't know where Sarah and her husband live, but she might try doing some research to pull up news accounts from recent years of the various communities being stuck in dire conditions for weeks at a time after ice storms and so forth.

    (My folks would have been casualties umpteen times over if they hadn't been self sufficient and prepared. That's not because I come from a family of preppers, but because that's how folks live in my culture. This helps us not be a burden to others. It prevents people from having to take risks to rescue us. It makes us givers, not needers of assistance.)

    Once she has her reports and facts in hand, Sarah might give her husband some food for thought. She might prompt some self-examination on his part about whether he wants to be among the stranded/hungry/cold/needs help & rescue, or would rather be on the other end of that equation.

    At any rate, I'd strongly suggest she needs to get a firm agreement at the very minimum that he doesn't mind and will not mock or obstruct her reasonable efforts at prepping. Then steady as she goes.

    Sounds like a city boy to me. lol


  3. I've been reading your articles since May of 2008, Patrice, and during this time you have FAR more than adequately made your point when it comes to why we should be prepared. You have answered every question, doubt and argument your readers have come up with, even the snarks. Especially the snarks! If reader Sarah has been a reader of yours "for awhile" as she says, she should have more than enough information and knowledge about why we should all be preparing for the worst. From her comment that she's been "staying in the shadows," I suspect she's very possibly a bit too meek to be taken seriously by her husband or anyone else. She needs to get a firmer grip on the bat and step up to the plate with the intent to hit a home run, and not just hope the pitcher walks her! If you get my drift. --Fred in AZ

  4. Why the attacks on Sarah? Unnecessary! I wanted to comment that my husband too thought I was a little crazy with my meager attempts at prepping. I would purchase items on sale and "stock" up on them, I also filled up every soda/juice bottle with water and stored them in the basement. As I continued doing these small prepping things I prayed that he would eventually see the "light" and want to be more prepared. After a few years of this he went to a gun show with a friend and they both came home determined to be more prepared for whatever may happen. My husband is now on board and we are slowly gaining more items that we feel are necessary for our area of the country. We complement each other in areas because we tend to focus on prepping in the areas where we feel confident (me-food-bug out bags, him-security?. My husband also works for the government but isn't under any delusion that they will come to his aide in great times of need.

    1. I can only speak for myself, and I am NOT "attacking" Sarah, for Heaven sake. Just a little advice, is all. I'm sure she wrote her message hoping Patrice and her readers might be able to help her out a bit. Giving some helpful advice isn't attacking anyone, nor is it passing judgment on them, as so many liberal-minded people like to claim nowadays. Don't be so touchy, Rachel. --Fred in AZ

  5. Patrice,
    Your last point is a very important one - many people today put a low emphasis on their promises; even before we prep, we need to live out the promises we have made in our lives, especially those to spouses, kids, military obligations, and to God.
    We also need to do this financially - some people have talked about getting prepped on credit and then defaulting or assuming it will be ignored WSHTF; first this will likely only happen in some scenarios, or maybe even none, and secondly if you default on your obligations, how can you expect others to carry through on theirs? If you "stole from the bank", how can you tell others to not steal?
    Just my 2 ¢

  6. I was the first prepper in our household. One day, when I was home alone it hit me like a bolt from the blue. I literally mean immediately! I made 2 trips to the grocery store that day, filling the car both times. When my DH got home, the pantry was reorganized and had plastic storage boxes stacked high of rice, beans, sugar, salt, coffee, tea, canned goods, oatmeal and Ramen Noodles, haha! He was very wary for quite awhile, and sometimes even told me that he was tired of hearing my "doom and gloom" so much. Still over a couple of years he has come around more and more. I would say I'm 100% prepper and he's 65% prepper. Better than where I started though. Do what you can without stepping on the spouse's toes, pray and then pray some more that they'll come around. Leaving survivalblog.com up on the computer everytime you walk away doesn't hurt either, LOL. (I did have the advantage that he was raised in the country and loved hunting and fishing though.)

  7. She could let her husband know about FEMAs recommendations on preparedness as a start.I don't know about where she lives ,but the county where I live has spots on the radio encouraging people to be prepared for emergencies.If the government is encouraging people to be prepared ,there must be a reason.

  8. Put my wife in grocery store and she's in heaven, so stocking up on staples is not an issue. We've been growing some of our own herbs and spices, so she is ready to move on to growing our own produce. And she wants to raise our child in the country. The issue is guns. She's terrified of the idea of a gun in the house.

    1. Take your lovely Bride plinking with .22's. Get some silly targets (you can find all kinds on-line). Start a family competition. You'd be surprised who ends up being the best shot in the family. My ancient mother, and my 14 yr old grand daughter are the best in my family (a real nip on the nose to all the macho men). Work your way up to heavier calibers and longer shots. Until then, buy her a baseball bat and pepper spray. Better something than nothing. Oh yeah, and heavily suggest she take judo classes! Survival isn't just about the shopping!

    2. My husband of 40 years thinks I'm a certifiable nut case, but he loves me. I think he is blind, but I love him. I prep because I love him and want him and the family safe if disaster strikes.

      He insists on keeping spending limits sane, but otherwise lets me go my nutsy ways. He even helps. He carries the heavy bags, builds marvelous shelving and tells me about good sales he sees. He won't go out and dig me a root cellar yet, but he did put in a storage shed, just for my preps.

      He and the kids even agree to participate in assembly line re-packing of bulk products, all the while commenting happily on my tin foil hat and paranoia. The secret is keep it light. Keep it loving. Keep it happy and helpful to each other. Very little doom and gloom. It's just something you're gonna do, so enjoy it.

  9. Patrice, you hit this right on the head. My husband thought I was a little over-the-edge when I first started. But I gently said many of the things you have listed here. When an ice storm settled in on us, his eyes were opened and I wasn't so crazed any more. We work together now, and it's a lot more fun.

    My note would be to do things quietly, but not secretively. Buy things you eat all the time noting the wisdom of buying during sale events. And never lose hope that he will "get it", as his time will come.

  10. I have a multi-faceted problem, I 'got saved' in 1971, my wife 'got saved' in the late 70's, we had both been serious preppers. Our two children 'late teens' were raised on The Bible & prepping, my wife has now convinced herself + our children that prepping is a waste of everything good. They have all left The Church and me for the 'new progressive movements' in The Church?: angel Worship, gold fillings/dust, barking - laughing/cackling, etc. and calling all this nonsense 'the new Christian realities'.

    So I have my preps 'for myself & Family' but no Family!

  11. @ Booter ~ what a sad story, I'm so sorry. Perhaps God will help them see the light, or perhaps He has a different plan in mind for you. Satan is surely busy in our world today leading people astray.

    Long time reader, first time commenter here (I finally have something to add!) My husband has been interested in prepping for many years, but it wasn't until I watched the 2006 TV show Jericho that I finally saw the value in being prepared. The show did a number of things wrong by prepping standards, but the important thing it did was to interest a number of fans in becoming prepared! It interested me to the point that I began writting a fan fiction piece about how things would have gone differently for the town and its residents if they had heeded the warnings of 9/11 and Katrina. 360 pages later, I'm still writing and learning so much from my research (which I apply in my daily life and hopefully in the future if we are able to move to a more rural setting).

    I guess the moral of the story is that the lightbulb comes on for a different reason for each person. Best Wishes to Sarah and others in that situation.